Friday, 31 July 2015

Why has Phil Walsh's son Cy just disappeared from view?

It has been almost a month since the coach of the Adelaide AFL team was allegedly stabbed to death by his son Cy but we have heard nothing about the young man's whereabouts since the day of the tragic events, on 7 July. We heard that Cy had been taken into protective custody in a secure ward of a hospital facility somewhere but that's all we know. We have heard nothing about further interviews with the suspect in the crime but it appears clear that Cy was a person living with schizophrenia who finally gave way to the messages he was exposed to in his mind. In the absence of any other information, that's how I read the situation anyway.

It's curious how softly the authorities are handling the case of Cy Walsh. Other deranged murder suspects have not been so fortunate. But on the other hand it feels like Cy has simply disappeared into a black hole of authoritative ministration, like someone embraced by a dark cloud of ectoplasm and subsequently hidden from view completely. It's almost unaccountable.

It's not as if the public has nothing to compare this case to. Most notably there was the case of the 2009 stabbing of art dealer Nick Waterlow by his son Anthony in Sydney's eastern suburbs. A book on the murders - Nick's daughter Chloe was also killed in the same incident - appeared in 2013. We have plenty of information about this terrible disease and the things it sometimes makes people do. If Cy - and subsequently his father - is another victim of it, then surely the public has a right to know so that we can better deal with the disease. But just dropping the poor man off the side of the universe into the bottom of an administrative gunny sack is not the way it should be done.

To me the notoriety gained by people who work as football coaches is somewhat unaccountable, but surely this is an opportunity to raise the profile of a terrible disease that many people in the community live with every day. Not in a bloodthirsty and unthinking way, but in a way that allows us to come to grips with it and so deal with it better. The silence surrounding Cy Walsh is in my mind just another example of the stigma that always still surrounds mental illness, and that prevents people from talking about it openly, which is what we need to be doing in order to better deal with it as a community. Only by facing what it means together can we effectively manage it, and hopefully help to improve the lives of many people who - heroically and unseen - live permanently with mental illness.


Anonymous said...

Although I am extremely interested in this case and would like more information for my curiosity the actual details are none of my business. Mental health issues could very easily mean a person having trouble finding himself, not psychosis. Interestingly, you have jumped to the conclusion that Cy has schizophrenia, despite this never been cited in any articles. Most people with a psychotic illness do not commit murderous crimes, as most people without mental illness do not commit murderous crimes. Although I agree with facing mental illness from a community perspective, an incident whereby someone is harmed should not be the trigger. Community perspective should come from those with mental health issues educating the community and breaking down stigma. Otherwise, as has happened, the community becomes afraid and has some strange perception that people with mental health issues, particularly schizophenia, murder people, which is not the case or at least any more so than the general community. People with schizophrenia are more likely to kill themselves than the general population, this is a matter that should be brought to the attention of the community and is the business of the media and common interest.

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